Like mother, like daughter: Veronica Franco was the privileged offspring of Venetian courtesan Paola Fracassa.
She studied Greek and Roman literature and learned to play the lute.
After marrying and divorcing a doctor, Franco consorted with politicians, artists, philosophers, and poets.
She became an accomplished poet herself and celebrated her sexual prowess in writing -her book Familiar Letters (published in 1580) was a collection of 50 letters written to her lovers, including King Henry III of France and the Venetian painter Jacopo Tintoretto.
Things Go Bad:
In the 1570s, Franco lost most of her money to thieves, but it was her overt sexuality that was her undoing.
In 1580, she was charged with immorality and witchcraft by the Roman Inquisition courts.
She managed to avoid conviction by giving an eloquent speech in her defense, and then a wealthy patron named Domenico Nenier came to her aid.
She never regained her former glory.
Veronico Franco lived out the rest of her life in a section of Venice populated by destitute prostitutes.